One Million Gun Sales for 58 Months Straight

The pandemic buying spree may be slowing down, but sales are still strong.

posted on June 18, 2024
record gun sales

May marked the 58th month in a row that the number of firearms sold—as reflected by the volume of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) requests processed by the FBI—exceeded one million. The news wasn’t all good, though. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) estimates, based on NICS figures, that sales decreased by 7.2 percent when compared to purchases made in May of 2023.

The total number of firearms sold last month nationwide came in at roughly 1,089,117, according to NSSF’s figures. During the same reporting period in 2023 the total was 1,174,142.

Declines in demand are frequent this year as a new normalcy returns after the pandemic buying boom. Comparing April’s 2024 and 2023 figures, for example, the drop was more significant at 11.2 percent, according to NSSF’s calculations. Volumes were estimated at 1,442,061, respectively. In February, however, decline was only .01 percent.

It’s important to keep in mind 24 states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder—who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit—to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers.

The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states for CCW permit application checks, as well as checks on active CCW permit databases. Though not a direct correlation to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide an additional picture of current market conditions. In addition to other purposes, NICS is used to check transactions for sales or transfers of new or used firearms.

With a contentious Presidential election on the horizon, enthusiasts can expect to see an increase in foot traffic through the doors of their favorite FFLs as sales rebound toward November.  


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